My head’s super fuzzy today. So much buzzing around inside me, lots I want to share here but it’s so much effort to do so. Everything feels like an effort right now, even the smallest actions. I desperately want a clean house (or at least a neat one) but I consider it an accomplishment when I change out the empty toilet paper roll for a fresh one. I talked to a friend yesterday for two hours; my soul was fed, much processing was done and I was exhausted for the rest of the day.
It gets me down that I don’t know what happened to my motivation and my will power. And, I know that this process of trauma work, specifically integration, is literally changing my body right down to the cellular level. Not exactly light work that can quietly happen in the background. It requires establishing new habits like yoga and eating a diet that more consistently includes protein and nutrients that give my nervous system and brain enough of the materials they need to establish thousands of new pathways.
The purpose of all of this effort and neural rearranging is to live in my own truth. That’s a phrase that feels a bit tired but one I cannot avoid using because it’s actually brimming with meaning and potential. The name my mother gave me at birth derives from the Greek word, Aletheia, and the philosopher, Heidegger, wrote that it is the state of “unclosedness” or “unconcealedness”. I think of it as the intentional act of living true to myself. I spent most of my life concealing, both from myself and others, how deeply wounded I was by the abuses I experienced. At the same time, I was also constantly moving towards being more honest about who and how I was. That seems like a contradiction but from the time I was about twenty years old, I was actively committed to my healing journey. Up until recently, I couldn’t have reconciled the messy process that can be both a clinging to remaining hidden, while at the same time daily moving towards becoming “unconcealed”. Even now, it makes my head feel fuzzy when I write about it.
The English word, truth, comes from an Old English word that meant faith, faithfulness, veracity and covenant. My early connection to the natural world as a sort of foster mother and a wise and gentle alter both inspired faith that I could survive and was, against all odds, innately precious. When I was a teenager and in my early twenties, living in abusive situations, the rage against my perpetrators gave birth to the covenant I made with myself that I would do whatever was required of me to survive and someday thrive because that was the most poignant action I could take against the twisted violent men in my life. And I’ve kept that promise to myself and watched as those men grew smaller in the rear view mirror of my life, even as my own true Self looms large on the path before me.
I feel compelled to let everything of who I’ve been be stripped away and lain out around me. Perhaps that is what I’m doing right now and why it feels like such an agonizingly slow process. I want to walk, bare bones, amongst all that has been cut away, turn each feeling and way of being this way and that so I can decide if I want to sew it back onto my skeleton or replace it with something that serves me better. Meanwhile, I am left lean, vulnerable and raw. Perhaps that explains why most mundane tasks feel either irrelevant or impossible right now. Perhaps I can cultivate some compassion for myself as I do this work of picking the bones of Self and sort what is worth keeping from those things that need to be discarded. And then, perhaps, I can truly embrace being unconcealed.
**Final thoughts after letting all of this stew for a bit:
I was cleaning the kitchen after breakfast while listening to some Cat Stevens and I remembered that my therapist had asked me to notice three glimmers each day. (To read more about Deb Dana’s ‘glimmers’ click here.) Glimmers are what we experience when our nervous system is regulated and we feel safe and content. Noticing them helps to strengthen the neural pathways to that state and creates an atmosphere in which more glimmers will flourish. It’s been about a week since I’ve attended to my daily task of writing down at least three glimmers every day. As I was pondering this and recommitting myself to this practice, I was sweeping the kitchen floor and I suddenly recognized that the process of tidying and the motion of sweeping were creating a sense of calm and satisfaction. A glimmer! That led to this question: What if I can be curious about when mundane tasks feel good, rather than boring or required? Perhaps this is one path to establishing new motivations for doing the things I’ve been leaving undone.